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Fear of stigma causes unemployment among people with epilepsy

21 December, 2006

A new study by
the University of Florida has revealed that the unemployment rate
among people with epilepsy in the USA is much higher than the national
rate due to fear of discrimination at work.

Researchers
interviewed nearly 300 people with epilepsy in northeast Florida and
southeast Georgia during September 2005. Only about a third of patients
in the study were employed.

Principal author Dr. Ramon Bautista said the study, published in the journal Epilepsy & Behavior, described a complex problem. Dr Bautista is an assistant professor of neurology and director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville.

"The
problem encompasses employers and companies who hire these people as
well as the patients themselves, who may or may not want to work in the
first place," Bautista said.

"Even
though the Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to
discriminate on the basis of one's disability, there are still
employers who may think twice about hiring someone with epilepsy."

"It
very well may be only perceived rather than actual discrimination, but
if epilepsy patients believe that they have less of a chance in the
workplace, then they're less likely to even want to try to work."